To paraphrase a popular sports quote, derby champions are crowned in November. Derby champions are BUILT in January.
You might expect that I’m about to tell you how hard you should thus be training over the winter, or whenever your league’s offseason falls. Not quite. You see, offseason training is a delicate business – a fine balance of rest, healing and re-habbing injuries, correcting imbalances, and THEN building yourself into a killing machine.
REST – you need it. Whatever level you’re playing at, chances are you’re physically worse for wear and almost certainly mentally burnt out. Give yourself a chance to miss your teammates’ faces by having some real downtime for 2 or 3 weeks (at least).
HEALING + RE-HAB Here’s where it’s important to think of the early stages of the offseason as “active” rest. Healing will take place on its own to some degree, by virtue of you not tormenting the same chronic pain site day after day. But a smart approach during the offseason is to make sure that chronic pain never comes back. See a medical professional like a physiotherapist or chiropractor, get evaluated for your specific injury, general muscle weakness, and spinal misalignments. Have her show you what exercises will correct things. Then DO the exercises. Sounds obvious but most people don’t keep up with their rehab.
RE-BALANCING Try as you might to skate in the opposite direction for warmup, the fact is that derby players have crazy muscle imbalances. Not only from turning left, but also from the repetitive lateral motion of skating. Our inner thigh muscles are weak compared to the outer thighs, for example. Correct this by doing some well-rounded strength training, and by doing things other than skating (cycling, jogging, swimming, skiing, playing other sports). The offseason is a GREAT time to focus on some yoga. Stretch out your scrunched-up-bits and build a strong core. Start with Hatha or Yin styles – don’t rush straight into power (Ashtanga) yoga if you’re a newb. And even if you’re a hot-power-crazy-yogi, a session or two of gentle poses might be more what the derby-doctor ordered.
KILLING MACHINE After you’ve rested, rehabbed, realigned, and regrouped, then by all means it is time to start transforming yourself. Use the off-season to work on your team’s conditioning, so you can emerge at your season opener like a pack of tigers ready to tear your opponents to shreds! Or, um, if you’re less into the ferocious, you could think of a different metaphor… Speaking generally, the offseason is a good time to work on your aerobic base (endurance & stamina) and strength training. Once you’ve rebuilt yourself to a solid base in those areas, use the early part of your on-season to focus on power and agility.
What are YOU planning this off-season? Post in the comments!